WHERE TO BUY BULK IN LONDON | Zero Waste Grocery Shopping

Wanna know where to buy bulk in London?

The answer is a little all over the place…. literally! With the sad news of the Dry Goods Store closing, I thought I’d list some of the other places where you can find bulk items in London.

A lot of these places aren’t specifically bulk, but offer a few items that I’ve found useful. If you know of any others then please let me know and I’ll try and keep this list up to date in case new locations open up or I find out about them. Also, remember that Bea Johnson has a bulk locator on her blog zerowastehome.com so def check that out too!

 

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GENERAL/MIX

Bulk Market – NEW! London’s First Zero Waste Grocery Store

Finallly! A store dedicated to shopping without packaging has arrived in London. Currently at a pop-up location in Dalston, East London and moving to Hackney nearby in a few months time. With a growing list of refillable items available, from (all organic) grains, pulses, pastas, oats, seeds, nuts, spices, salt and herbs to harder to find items such as maple syrup, honey, yoghurt, cream (!), nut butter, essential oils, cosmetic clays, loo roll cleaning products and even dog food! It really is a one-stop shop for almost everything. Lots of locally sourced, organic fresh produce too!

As Nature Intended

Not something they seem to rave about but they certainly have a decent enough selection of  mostly organic bulk dry goods. Think pop corn, beans, grains, super foods, coffee etc. Various locations across London including Shoreditch, Edgware Road and Balham.

They also have ecover refill stations!

Find locations here: https://www.asnatureintended.uk.com/shop-home/

Wholefoods Market

The “mothership” on High St Kensington has the largest bulk offering of all the WFM stores but little of it is organic. I mainly buy organic coffee, organic popcorn and organic wheat berries from here. They have a lot of non organic items such as spices, grains, dried fruits, nuts, seeds, flours, super foods etc. The stores in Fulham and Richmond also have a (smaller) bulk section but the one in Soho Piccadilly does not. You can (most of the time) find bulk frozen organic berries in the Fulham location too!

Brixton Wholefoods

Not part of Wholefoods Market, this little independent store in Brixton is useful for buying loose herbs and spices.

E5 Bakehouse

This artisanal bakery and coffee shop also has a very small and quaint bulk offering in London Fields, East London. I buy salt, sugar and sometimes their organic granola from here. They mill their own organic flour which is sold in paper packagingUPDATE 11/7/2017 – and they have just started selling it from bulk bins too! As most flours start going rancid once milled, the fresher the better!

Unpackaged at Planet Organic

This is the latest reincarnation of Unpackaged! I haven’t paid this a visit yet, but hope to soon. This is currently the only Planet Organic with an Unpackaged section but fingers crossed they’ll expand this into their other stores soon. Expect to find (all organic) coffee, grains, nuts, pulses, seeds, wine, dried fruits, ecover refills, cereals and chocolate. Click here for the full list.

Earth Natural Foods

This place is amazing! They have a hefty section selling (mostly organic) bulk spices, herbs, arrow root powder, grains, legumes, beans, nuts, coffee beans, tea and more recently they’ve started selling dried organic pasta! Hooray! For those of you who want soya, they also have loose/unpackaged soya chunks available to buy – not organic but labelled non-GMO, so there’s that. They also have Faith In Nature shampoo and conditioner refills (make sure you bring a 400ml container as I’m told that’s all they allow for Faith In Nature refills) as well as ecover washing up liquid, laundry liquid and all purpose cleaner refills. I took my own cloth bags and used them without any probs. They also have plenty of loose, organic produce available too.

Neal’s Yard Remedies

They sell a plethora of amazing organic dried herbs and teas and they are cool with people bringing their own containers. Full list is here 

PRODUCE

I quit supermarkets a while ago and only enter if I really have to. They make it tricky to buy anything without packaging and oddly, almost all the organic produce is packaged in single use, non-recyclable packaging. So instead, I shop at the following locations.

Daylesford

When most people think of Daylesford, they think “expensive!” – I used to think the same. But if I just buy their meat and fresh produce then it’s actually very reasonable and the quality is the best I’ve come across. Every time I spend over £20, I receive a stamp and after 5 stamps I get £10 off my next grocery shop. The staff are super friendly too. They have various locations in London, including Chelsea, Notting Hill and Marylebone with more on the way. All of their produce is organic and seasonal too.

Farmers’ Markets | Local Green Grocer

There is an abundance of farmers’ markets in London, most offering organic produce too! Whilst the meat is still normally in plastic (find a local organic butcher instead) the veggies, fruits, eggs and fish can all be bought using your own packaging.

Check out lfm.org.uk to find your nearest one.

Also Borough Market is always worth visiting – try to go off peak to avoid the crowds. Here you can find Hook and Son who sell organic raw milk products (and they have an organic milk refill – bring your own clean and sterilized bottle though!). Borough Wines also has a stall here selling bulk wine refills.

And shopping at local (and organic!) small indpendent grocery shops, not only means you’re more likely to find seasonal produce without plastic packaging, but also more of your money is likely to stay in your local community.

PASTA

I make my own as finding it in bulk can be tricky. Here’s my recipe.

I think The Deli Downstairs in Hackney, East London may sell dry pasta in bulk. I’m hoping to swing by the next time I’m in the area and check it out. I’ll let you know!

UPDATE: Earth Natural Foods in Kentish Town, North London has started selling organic pasta fusilli in wholewheat and penne in white!

COFFEE & TEA

The London Tea Exchange – tea only

My Cup of Tea – tea only

Wholefoods High St Ken – both

Algerian Coffee Stores – both

As Nature Intended – coffee only

BEER & WINE

We Brought Beer (various locations) – beer

Borough Wines – beer and wine

Clapton Craft (various locations) – beer

Wholefoods Market Fulham – wine only

Camden Brewery – I haven’t been but have read they do growler refills.

SOAPS

Camden Market StallRead The Label (solid soap bars, liquid soap, shampoo bars, body lotions, lip balms in metal containers). I met the owner and he knows a lot about his ingredients and is happy to refill!

Most health food shops and some markets will also sell handmade soap bars, often organic, unpackaged too.

SHAMPOO & CONDITIONER

Owing to hygiene regs, it’s kinda hard to find refill liquid shampoo etc in the U.K. Instead, try asking your hair salon if they will refill for you. I emailed ahead and they were cool with me returning with the original bottles and refilling for me. They are doing me a favour so don’t expect all salons to oblige.

RANDOM ITEMS IN GLASS JARS WITH NO OR MINIMAL PLASTIC

Aspall’s Cyder Vinegar

Probios Maple Syrup

Biona Tomato Passata (BPA free lid)

MILK

I get a weekly delivery of organic whole milk in glass bottles with foil lids from Milk & More or there is a Hook and Son refill at Borough Market

MEAT

Butchers – find a local one to you – I always choose organic as non-organic animals are highly likely to be fed some gm feed as part of their diet, even in the UK! Simply take a container, I use a few stainless steel tins, and hand it over explain you’d love them to put it straight in the tin, no plastic please. They get it, they really do.

Happy zero waste shopping in London guys!

For locations outside of London, Sarah Lewis has compiled an elegant list of shops that sell a lot of food items packaging-free, all over the UK here: https://thezerowaster.com/zero-waste-near-you/

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8 Comments

  1. Anna
    15th March 2017 / 10:47 pm

    Hey, thanks for this post! As a New Yorker in London I totally miss bulk bins. I noticed the Holland and Barrett on Upper St (the one closer to Highbury Islington station) in Islington put in bulk bins for dried fruit, don’t think much of it is organic, but could be wrong there. The budgens next door also do Ecover refills.

    Ps, if you’re interested follow my trash talk on instagram @trashtalkerworldwide

  2. Paula Kalemba
    20th March 2017 / 10:15 am

    Such a great and extremely helpfully post! I have been following you for a while now and I am always feeling inspired to reduce my unnecessary waste even more! Now whenever I have a chance and I always encouraging others to do a small step towards a cleaner planet! Thank you so much for your amazing job and keep up!! Loads of love!

  3. Claire
    28th March 2017 / 4:33 pm

    Hi!

    I’ve recently been going Zero Waste myself, and my hairdresser switched my partner and I onto a lovely little bulk goods store in Stoke Newington. It’s located at 101-103 Newington Green Rd, N1 4QY. They’ve also have a second smaller shop about 10 minutes walk away, on Albion Rd.

    The clerks weren’t exactly friendly or overly helpful, but the main bulk store on Newington Green Rd has a great selection of pulses, nuts, spices, dried fruits and liquid detergents, amongst other odds and ends. The Albion store has a much smaller selection of bulk, but still worth a visit.

    Definitely worth putting on the map, now the Dry Goods Store has (sadly) closed.

    • Claire
      28th March 2017 / 4:34 pm

      Whoops! Helps when I mention the name – they’re called ‘Mother Earth’.

  4. 31st March 2017 / 6:25 pm

    Monmouth Coffee, Ozone Coffee, Campbell and Syme, and Climpson and Sons will all put coffee beans into a your own container (Climpson and Sons need to be e-mailed in advance); other coffee shops with onsite roasters will probably do the same if you ask. Sourced Market, Wigmore Street, do refillable beer and wine, and can wrap salami etc from the delicatessen in grease-proof paper rather than plastic. Neal’s Yard sells cheese and some butter wrapped in grease-proof paper only. Lush does a whole range of self-preserving, naked soaps/solid shampoo/solid conditioner etc.

  5. Tamar
    7th June 2017 / 6:05 pm

    Great list I’d add Brewdog on for beers as they too d growler refills and sell growlers.

  6. 9th June 2017 / 2:59 am

    Independent shops such as The People’s Supermarket can be good places to save money by buying larger sizes. Although this may conjure up visions of super-sized portions, bulk buying isn’t about quantity but thrift.

  7. Ciannait
    25th June 2017 / 9:56 pm

    This is good. I came to London in april with my family, for a working holiday from Australia where I’ve been living for the last 25 years. It’s been 9 years since I was back in London and, perhaps because of the high degree of plastic consciousness in my home region of Byron Shire, and/or because of the seemingly higher order of single use plastic consumption here since last visit, I have been shocked by the huge amount of rubbish we are accumulating. I don’t remember everything being packed in plastic in the super markets before, and really bad plastic that doesn’t seem to be recyclable! Why oh why?!
    Small gains have obviously been made with kerbside compost collection, not to mention recycling in the last 25 years, but there is still a loooong way to go before it is adequately addressing the wastage. And of course the problem starts at the purchasing end, with very few options for buying self serve bulk.
    Back in my fairly small, and admittedly Eco-friendly Australian bubble, there are 7 shops within 15 minutes drive that sell bulk items, 3 of which are dedicated bulk suppliers, the other 4 selling organic fruit, veg and other Eco supplies as well.
    There are also farmers markets in the region on almost every day of the week, selling regional produce, most of which is package free.
    I’m not saying I managed a plastic free lifestyle, but it was a heck of a lot less plastic consumptive.
    And while I am delighted to find out about options for buying bulk in London, which I have searched for and not found until now, many of them are a fair distance from my home and would require much greater organisation to get to than I am currently able to manage.
    I don’t have a solution really, except that I think the culture needs to change. Shifts happen, and sometimes it seems as though they happen before your eyes – or maybe ones eyes simply seem what is already happening. I am glad to see that the change is happening right here on this page.

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